InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


Homebuyers bombarded with mail, how to sift through the spam

Posted at 6:14 AM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 08:50:33-04

BALTIMORE — Congratulations! You bought a house and now you're going to get a lot of mail. These letters seem urgent, and they're all different colors, but that doesn’t make them important.

Julia Neal, realtor at Red Cedar Real Estate, said these unsolicited offers are mostly spam.

“They're after money and your services,” said Neal.

When you close on a house that information becomes public record, which is how marketers have your bank's name and mortgage amount. However, look closely at the fine print. The mailer will state that the offer is “not affiliated with any lender.”

The sell
Most are trying to sell mortgage protection insurance (MPI). MPI is not to be confused with private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which is required by your lender if your down payment is less than 20 percent of your home's value.

Mortgage protection insurance is optional. If something were to happen to you, this insurance policy would pay off your mortgage, which may sound like a good deal, but you may already be covered under your life insurance policy.

With MPI, your lender is the beneficiary compared to life insurance where your family decides what to do with the money.

This information isn't spelled out in these letters. Marketers use scare tactics to try and make you believe this is what you need.

One local homeowner received more than five letters from Family Wellness Data Center. The Better Business Bureau has given the company an “F” rating for failing to provide a phone number, physical address, website, or way to opt out of future mailings.

The spam
“This nifty little document, you do not need to pay for your deed after you purchase a property. A deed will be mailed to you within four to six weeks after settling,” said Neal.

Another letter sent by “Local Records Office” in Annapolis, Md. offers to provide homeowners with a complete property profile and copy of the deed. The letter, which comes with a deadline, looks like a bill, however, the company is selling a free service for $89.

“Yep, and banking on them just moving forward thinking they have to pay something for something,” said Neal. “My number one recommendation for any homeowner who has already purchased a home and is getting all those different things in the mail is to call your real estate professionals, call your realtor that you worked with, call your mortgage lender, snap a picture of what you got and ask them if it's legitimate or not.”

The letters that’ll save you money
And not everything is junk! Keep an eye out for the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit that comes on official letterhead from the State of the Maryland. This will help reduce your property taxes. Mail it back or fill it out online.

You'll also get coupons and discounts from local vendors and stores.

This information is covered in homebuyer education classes through Live Baltimore and various neighborhood groups. You may even be eligible for a $5,000 home buying incentive. Click here to see all the financial incentives available to prospective Baltimore City homebuyers.

To find a homebuyer education class near you, click here.

And if you have a Matter for Mallory, she wants to hear from you. Send her an email using the form below.